Jiarui Li

“Writing strips me of social limitations, allowing me to embrace freedom as a wild bird”

Jiarui Li: “My family and I moved to the US from China when I was 11. Starting then I got into something called creative writing. How I got into it is complex: I like to read web fiction; as a middle schooler then getting into puberty I needed something to express myself and record my emotions down. 

Out of all of the different genres, I’m most into youthful romantic fiction, which is what I started with in middle school.

It was kind of hard because I only went to school in China until the end of elementary so I didn’t have a great foundation for my writing: for example my wording choice and sentence structure. As I’m reading and writing more, I can see myself improving. 

Transferring from a small private school to Dougherty, I was shocked by the amount of people and diversity. Over time, I began to feel social anxiety and depressed emotions. I shut myself out from my family and wrote everything down instead. As time goes by, I decided to discard my old, immature writing and start new ones on different topics.

My latest writing is a book, a memoir almost, that recorded my feelings starting from the beginning of March to the end of October–time in quarantine— on how my ideology has changed. I wrote down my feelings whenever I felt inspired: maybe by music, by a video, or by a book. The writing is ordered chronologically into different chapters, reflecting my personal discovery journey as I try to find the significance of life: why do we, humans, exist? Why are we trying to be alive? Most importantly, how can we manage our physical and emotional health?

The book is written in pages on an app and printed privately, but I do wish to publish it. The problem is that it’s too much work, and I don’t have the time or financial abilities right now. Since I’m writing in Chinese, it’s less likely for me to choose it as a major in college, but I will keep writing as a hobby. Maybe when I make enough money in my 30s or 40s, I will quit my job and start writing travel journals. I also have plans on writing a book every 5 years or so to record my life and my view of the world and society.”

Through writing, I realized that extreme emotions are piled from smaller things. It’s scary, but when you’ve decided that you’re going to face it bravely, you’ve already won. A lot of us had thought of suicide, and that’s okay. For those who try to fake it, the emotional condition is serious and deadly, but for those who are really suffering, know that there’s always hope. Find yourself a therapist, do things you enjoy, and those things will quietly fade away. After all, only when each individual heals would a pandemic truly end.”

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